Canadian feminist scholars are joining forces to try to prevent the closure of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick.
Here’s a note from a philosophy student and student leader there explaining the situation and requesting help:
I am writing to inform you of an urgent need for support of Mount Allison University’s Women and Gender Studies program. Yesterday our university announced that they were effectively cutting the program by removing its funding for next year, refusing to offer any core WGST courses, and refusing to let students sign up for our WGST minor. Students were not consulted about the cut, and the university failed to release a public statement, leaving the announcement up to the program’s Acting Director. Though our university only offers students the option to minor in WGST at the moment, the program has tripled in size over the past few years, with long waitlists for introductory classes. It is also worth noting that the founder, champion, and department head of the program sadly passed away less than two months ago.
Last year, CBC reported that Mount Allison has the highest sexual assault rate of New Brunswick universities, and had the second highest rate among Canadian universities and colleges over a five-year period. Our university president was awarded the Order of Canada this year. Clearly, there is a very real and immediate need for Women and Gender Studies programs.
We believe that this administrative action speaks to the university’s disregard for learning from, listening to, and supporting marginalized voices. As I’m sure you know, Women and Gender Studies teaches essential critical thinking skills, which are needed now more than ever in light of pervasive rape culture across university campuses, the stronghold of neoliberal and corporate forces over universities, eroding collegial governance, and continued disparities and inequities experienced by women and other marginalized groups. We also worry that this move opens the door to further discrimination – particularly topical given our students’ ongoing push for the Indigenization of Mount Allison.
We urge you to publicly and vocally condemn Mount Allison’s decision. There are many ways in which you may do so.
-If you send me a public statement on behalf of your department, I will collect, publish, and disseminate these through our Women and Gender Studies Student Society or program faculty.
-You can sign and circulate this petition:
-You can tweet your support to @MTA_WGSTsociety or use the hashtag #WGSTcuts.
-You can write a letter to one of our university’s senior administrators. Their e-mails have been included below.
Dr Campbell (University President): email@example.com
Dean VanderLeest (Dean of Arts): firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Grant (Provost & Vice-President, Academic & Research): email@example.com
Mr Inglis (Vice-President, Finance and Administration): firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have further comments or questions, please feel free to get in touch with me. You may also contact Katharyn Rose Stevenson, our Women and Gender Studies Student Society President at email@example.com or Dr Lisa Dawn Hamilton, Acting Program Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many thanks and in solidarity,
Student of sociology and philosophy
Mount Allison ’17